Using NetFlow vs. SNMP for Network Monitoring [Ask the Engineer]

Ask the Engineer

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Jack Kauter Published: March 09, 2022

Jack Kauter and Park Place Technologies engineer, John Diamond, discuss using NetFlow vs. SNMP for network monitoring, and the merits of each protocol.

SNMP vs. NetFlow Video Script

The following script breaks down the difference between these two common types of network management protocol.

Jack: Hello everyone, I’m Jack Kauter at Park Place Technologies and welcome to Ask the Engineer. Joining us this week is Senior Solutions Architect, John Diamond. Welcome, John.

John: Great to see you, Jack.

Deciding Between SNMP and NetFlow

Jack: John, this week’s question is about monitoring protocol options. Specifically, what are the key issues a business should consider when deciding between SNMP and NetFlow when monitoring their network.

How Does SNMP Work?

John: Well, fundamentally, SNMP is a protocol that allows you to understand what the equipment you’re monitoring is. How it’s configured (using different SNMP versions), and then from a resource utilization standpoint, it will give you indications of how much processor and memory resources are being used, and at the interface level, not only their level of utilization, or percentage bandwidth utilization, but also the number of packet corruption and discards that you have that gives you a richer understanding of the good and the bad nature of the traffic.

Jack: Sure, and what about NetFlow?

How Does NetFlow Work?

John: Well, NetFlow really adds the other half of the equation. NetFlow allows you to understand the nature of the traffic flowing through the interfaces on the devices. It’ll give you an idea of the top conversations, the application mix, and where you’ve got an overloaded interface. It will allow you to work out whether all of that traffic is legitimate, or whether some of it possibly could be offloaded elsewhere on the network.

Jack: Very interesting, and John, would you say there’s a business case for both?

Using NetFlow and SNMP Together

John: Oh, absolutely. Without both, you’re really only seeing half of the picture. With the SNMP, you’re seeing the full resource utilization dimension of the device, both physical resources and also bandwidth utilization resources, and also errors on the interfaces. With NetFlow, you’re getting an indication of the nature of the traffic. But, don’t forget, it only tells you about the good traffic; It doesn’t tell you about the problems, and it won’t tell you about the resource utilization of the devices. So, they really do go hand in hand.

Jack: Thanks John, great insight and a brilliant comparison. If anyone has any follow-up questions, or different questions that you’d like to ask our engineer, please comment below this video, and we’ll see you next time on Ask the Engineer.


Contact Park Place today to learn how our enterprise network monitoring software can help improve the visibility of your network, enabling more strategic management!

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About the Author

Jack Kauter,
As an Online Marketing and Analytics Manager, Jack is responsible for Digital Marketing initiatives with a primary focus on EMEA and APAC. His responsibilities extend to supporting the Sales team, orchestrating campaigns, generating leads and more.